Even Yellowstone Park staff and tourists need to do their dirty laundry. Today, modern facilities are available throughout the Park. Back during the Park’s beginnings, laundry was a challenge.
With all the Geothermal hot water features, it made sense to wash where they could. Early soldiers and visitors would place their dirt laundry into Old Faithful. When she went off, the clothes were blown and rinsed across the field. Pinetree racks were set up for drying.
Other geothermal water features were also accessed. Superintendent Philetus Norris contracted a bid to build a laundry in the Norris Geyser Basin. Since there were no other formal public facilities in the Park, the Queens Laundry was the first construction by the Federal Govt. for Public use. It was constructed in Sentinel Meadows.
The 8 by 19-foot structure was designed to use the hot water on the site. The water runoff was cool enough to work in and sanitize laundry. The Laundry functioned from 1872-1886. Water temperatures and flows have since changed. The 5-foot-deep bathing pool is filled in.
Minerals have preserved the logs and site. It is located off trail and can not be visited, but can be seen off the Firehole River Trail. The hike is a 5-mile round trip and 2 miles from the nearest road.
The Queens Laundry remains the oldest building in Yellowstone Park.